Scientists developed nanowire device that has the ability to detect cancer making the urine test. It based on the technology of identifying microscopic levels of urinary markers potentially associated with cancer. This novel device will provide a foundation for getting a long-term goal of the early diagnosis of cancer in a non-invasive way.

The innovative development was made by scientists from the Nagoya University.

The extracellular vesicle (EV) are mediators of cell-to-cell communication. Takao Yasui mentioned that EVs are highly valuable as clinical markers. The composition of the molecules contained in an EV can provide a diagnostic signature for various diseases.

Analyzing microRNAs (miRNAs) within urine extracellular vesicles (EVs) provides the non-invasive method of early-stage disease diagnoses. It means that the presence of certain microRNAs in urine can be a sign of serious diseases such as bladder and prostate cancer. Nevertheless, the inherent difficulty in collecting dilute concentrations of EVs (<0.01 volume %) from urine has hindered the development of these diagnoses. Despite this fact, there are a lot of technological barriers that need to be overpassed.

Takao Yasui noted that the amount of EVs in urine is very low, at less than 0.01% of the whole fluid volume. It makes diagnostic difficult. Consequently, scientists decided to put zinc oxide nanowires into a specialized polymer to produce the effective material.The study results demonstrated that invention is very efficient. The speed of collection is over 99%, exceeding ultracentrifugation as well as other techniques, which were used in this field. In additions, this method allows scientists to perform EV-encapsulated miRNA analysis with a small sample volume and short treatment time: to collect the EVs requires 1 ml of urine and 20 min. The mechanical stability of nanowires anchored into poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) during lysis buffer flow is effective for efficient in situ extraction of the urine EV–encapsulated miRNAs within 20 min; more species of miRNAs of different sequences (around 1000 types) can be extracted from collected EVs than using standard methods. 

The nanowire-anchored microfluidic device for in situ extraction of urine EV–encapsulated miRNAs was fabricated by bonding the nanowire-embedded PDMS substrate and a herringbone-structured PDMS substrate. The device consists of nanowires anchored into a microfluidic substrate. The mechanical stability of nanowires, which are secured into substrates during buffer flow and the electrostatic collection of EVs onto the nanowires are the 2 key techniques that provide the effectiveness of this device.

Furthermore, the development can identify not only urologic malignancies such as bladder and prostate but neurological, for example, cancer of lung, pancreas and liver.